As I’ve noted several times, my Hall of Fame thing isn’t necessarily voters getting “the right ballot.” It’s just about having an actual coherent philosophy and approach and maintaining some level of intellectual consistency about yourself. For example, Ken Rosenthal and I differ sharply about PED users in the Hall of Fame, but his Hall of Fame ballot is still rigorous and defensible and consistent with his stated beliefs despite looking pretty different from my hypothetical ballot. I’m accused of being Hall of Fame Thought Police, but all I really ask is that you not be a blithering idiot about it.
Here’s a good example of how that all works: Noted idiot Dan Shaughnessy blithered his Hall of Fame ballot over the weekend. My stomach is not strong enough to get into it blow-by-blow, but Jason Collette gave it a good going-over. It’s worth your time, if for no other reason than the insane level of slapdashery on display.
This year Shaugnessy voted for Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. That leaves five empty slots, suggesting that he does not believe anyone else on the ballot is worthy. Which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that, as Collette notes, Shaughnessy voted for Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, and Curt Schilling last year.
Why no Raines and Trammell this year? It’s not because they got crowded out — there’s plenty of room left on Shaughnessy’s ballot — it’s because Shaugnessy doesn’t give enough of a crap about his vote to even look at what he did last year or to maintain even a shred of intellectual consistency about it. For all of the stuff we hear from writers about the honor and responsibility of a Hall of Fame vote and for all of the stuff we hear about how much they agonize over such an important task, one of the most noted sportswriters of the past 30 years dashes his ballot the hell off in about five minutes.
What a process.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.